Do you know your event app adoption rate? In a recent conference where we provided on-site app management services, our overall app adoption rate was 83%. While high, we dug a little further into the stats (which you should be doing after your event to determine your actual event technology ROI), we noticed that the app adoption rate among attendees was actually 93%! The adoption rate among sponsors and vendors was 50%, which pulled the overall rate down. If not reported accurately, this has a negative impact on the ROI of the event technology being used.
Unfortunately, this is a common scenario as sponsors and vendors are being left out. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest reason is lack of communication combined with the perception that the app is only needed for attendees to see the conference sessions and schedules. If your sponsors and vendors only appear for the trade show and break times, they generally assume they don’t need the app. What they don't know is that they are missing out on all of the added social interaction throughout the conference that your event technology now provides.
Looking at the big picture, this can also lead to larger impacts on the overall event experience, as sponsors and vendors may feel disconnected and not actively involved in your event. Flip this situation by leveraging your event technology!
Sponsors and vendors are often left to fend for themselves during an event, focusing on their own marketing and goals. If they do not understand how to interact with your audience, the vendor-attendee experience may default to the typical forced sales pitch, which can negatively affect the overall feel of your conference. While you can’t change the business practices of your vendors and sponsors, you can help them interact with attendees more fluidly by involving them more, and actually treating them as attendees themselves.
While the main focus of the planner is generally the attendees, it is important to not forget the sponsors and vendors! Remember - without them, the meeting or conference may not even happen! As important as they are, once the event begins and sponsors and vendors are on-site and set up, they are usually put on the back burner, as attendees and conference details take precedent. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, your vendors and sponsors need some love, too! If you want them to keep coming back, it is your responsibility to include them in the conference, and make them feel welcome and part of the group. You can put steps in place for the conference to be successful for them, not just the attendees.
Event technology today brings so much more to an event than just an online schedule. It brings numerous ways for attendees and sponsors to communicate, connect, and form relationships with each other that go far beyond a sales pitch behind a table with giveaways! Here are a few ways you can use your event technology to help ensure the sponsors and vendors feel included and truly part of the conference:
Ensure that each sponsor attendee also has an attendee profile in your event app. This will allow the vendor to participate in the Activity Feed and interact with other attendees on a personal level by posting and/or commenting during the conference.
NOTE: Make sure you have clear Terms of Service regarding app usage. These should include banning any selling or non-approved advertising or promotion of a product in the Activity Feed, and keep sponsors posting on a personal level only. You should have a designated moderator to ensure the rules and Terms of Service are followed, with the ability to remove any unwanted posts that may appear.
Create a marketing plan that allows sponsors and vendors to purchase a specific amount of ad space throughout your conference app and emails. These can be sold à la carte or integrated into modern, up-to date sponsorship packages that include benefits in your event technology. Depending on the technology you use, there are also ways to provide statistics on ads that were run through the event app, giving sponsors with more ROI evidence to defend their purchase (and future purchases!).
NOTE: You should have a designated person managing, maintaining, and monitoring these ads, especially if they appear during the conference for a set amount of time.
Consider ways that your group can integrate the sponsors and vendors into your gamification plan. Whether it’s scanning codes, lead retrieval, or providing prizes for interaction, they should be involved. Providing customized discussion rooms, online activities, or even specific session tracks for sponsors and vendors will help them become more involved and connected to your event. Customized messages, sent directly to sponsors and vendors, can also be managed through your event app during the event, inviting them to specific events, providing information, or to simply check in on them.
Just as you should provide instructions to your attendees about the event app, you also need to provide instructions to your sponsors and vendors. Don't assume they know how to use the app to benefit themselves to the fullest. Providing sponsors and vendors tips on how they can leverage the app will help them become more involved and ingrained with your event. Stats show that sponsors and vendors are not taking advantage of everything you have to offer to them. Help them with ideas of how to properly use your technology to engage and interact with your group.
While attendees are usually the main focus, it is important to attract and retain sponsors and vendors each year. By maximizing your event technology already in place, you can help them have the best experience possible, feel welcome and included, and help ensure they will be back again next year!